DNA elements of an effective Product Owner
Product Owners are the face of the product and one of the most important professionals in developing and delivering any product in an organization. Product Owners are responsible for creating, ordering, and validating the list of work to be performed for product development. They are also responsible for the products success and have the authority to decide what has to be developed and when.
Generally, a business-facing person is employed to fill a Product Owners role because they are expected to understand the market, product, business, and constraints involved with them. A Product Owner has a clear vision for the product and works closely with the internal stakeholders, customers, and the developers team. They assure that the customer receives the best possible product developed by the organization.
You may often read about the steps or training of a Product Owner and what the Product Owner must "DO" as a set of responsibilities as part of their role – that they must own the Product Backlog, they must manage the product backlog and the priorities, they must refine the backlog, they must answer the team's questions.
There’s more to a Product Owner than the responsibilities of their role. There are 6 effective elements that make up the DNA of a great Product Owner.
- Engagement – A great Product Owner is engaged and ready to step to the task at hand and is available for the stakeholders, the customers, the development team, and the Scrum Master. Important questions are answered quickly and valuable information is provided on time. The Product Owner ensures his availability never blocks the progress of the development team.
- Available – A product owner should be available to the team on a daily basis. He cannot be the person who answers after two days.
Being physically available is only half as valuable as being completely present in the moment and dedicated to their duties and responsibilities.
- Decisive – There is no room for the wishy-washy in the PO role. A great PO will see an opportunity and seize it before it’s gone.
Remember that the product owner is always a final decision-maker! There will always be many stakeholders who will want to impose their opinion with new tasks to the backlog. However, it’s always up to the product owner to decide what scope and priority the team should address.
- Empowered – A great Product Owner is empowered to take decisions related to the product. Depending on the organizations culture, creating support for the Product Owner’s decisions might take some time, but swiftly making important decisions about the product for the team is a primary condition for a sustainable pace of the development team.
To be effective, a Product Owner must exhibits strength and confidence, which in turn helps executive stakeholders to trust them and give them the power to enact change.
- Knowledgeable – This goes without saying—almost. Many people parading as Product Owner are merely project managers who were assigned the role without having any clue of what it entails.
Every input the Product Owner gives has to be according to the customer needs, and every information should enhance product development and drive to product success. The Product Owner should have the capability to make his imagination into reality by actively guiding the team and interacting with the stakeholders.
- Communicative – This is not only speaking but also listening, watching, and writing precise reports. Empathy with both the business and tech team is important because the Product Owner is a bridge between business and tech.
The communication aspect is also important during the sprint when providing early constructive feedback related to the work done. A good Product Owner always knows the current state of the implementation and isn’t waiting till the end of the sprint.
Is it in your DNA? An effective Product Owner must to look for opportunities to maximize their business value and see the best possible ways to enhance the products quality. By being an engaged, available, decisive, empowered, knowledgeable, a fantastic communicator, any individual can become a great Product Owner. It is important for every Product Owner to inculcate these characteristics and become a recognized individual in their industry.
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